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 IU Trident Indiana University

D201 3D Modeling Digital Fabrication Project VR Showcase

Project Leads: Chauncey Frend, Jeff Rogers, UITS Research Technologies - Research made possible by Oculus Rift Virtual Reality System, IQ Wall

Advanced Visualization Lab, Visualization and Analytics, UITS Research Technologies

Middle VR configuration
Figure 1. Professor Racek talks with students about virtual reality as a design tool, while a seated student (right) uses the Oculus Rift. A synchronized video feed from the Rift to the CIB IQ-Wall provides classmates a view of the seated student’s experience.

Professor Jon Racek worked with IU’s Advanced Visualization Lab (AVL) staff to empower students in his 3D Modeling and Design for Digital Fabrication course (D201) by incorporating the Oculus Rift virtual reality system into the class design toolset. Students spent the majority of the 2014 spring semester designing 3D sculptures that will be physically created using a CNC router fabrication process outlined by Professor Racek. Before the fabrication process, the class visited the Cyberinfrastructure Building (CIB) to review their designs using the AVL's latest virtual reality technology. This experience conveyed to the class the power of virtual reality as a design tool for its ability to convey a better sense of real-world scale and enhance natural human perception.

Contemporary interior designers strive to enhance the effectiveness of everyday spaces as settings for a range of human activities. Designers who purposefully integrate new technologies and methodologies to review and realize their designs are more able to design around and accommodate the human experience of space. IU students who understand and appreciate the role of advanced virtual reality technology in interior design will enter the marketplace with a competitive edge.

Professor Racek found a portable and inexpensive virtual reality in the Oculus Rift. AVL staff provided Racek with tutorials and expertise on using the Lab's Rift and associated development software. D201 students submitted their designs to Racek, who prepared them for review. AVL staff advised on aesthetic elements such as lighting and provided a comfortable demonstration environment where all students had an opportunity to experience their virtual designs.

IU’s Advanced Visualization Lab is funded through the Office of the Vice President for Information Technology; is a unit of UITS Research Technologies; and is affiliated with the Pervasive Technology Institute. For questions about this project or to request a consultation, please contact

NSF GSS Codes:

Primary Field: Multidisciplinary Studies (980) - Science, Technology, and Society

Secondary Field: Computer Science (401) - Information Science/Studies